International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 2

International Handbook of Urban Policy, Volume 2

Issues in the Developed World

Elgar original reference

Edited by H. S. Geyer

This Handbook brings together a range of viewpoints on a number of the burning issues affecting urban sustainability in North America and Europe at the beginning of the 21st century. H.S. Geyer and his contributors cover a wide spectrum of the urban policy issues that determine the growth and development progress as well as the livability of cities in the Occident.

Chapter 1: Introduction: The Policy Context of Urbanization

M. Pacione

Subjects: politics and public policy, public policy, urban and regional studies, urban studies


M. Pacione Introduction Urban policy is concerned with the management of urban change. It is a state activity that seeks to influence the distribution and operation of investment and consumption processes in the built environment. It is important to realize, however, that urban policy is not confined to activity at the urban scale. National and international economic and social policies are as much urban policy, if defined by their urban impacts, as land use planning or urban redevelopment. In effect urban policy is often made under another name. Urban policy is dynamic. Its formulation and implementation form a continuing process, not an event. Measures that are introduced cause changes that may resolve some problems but create others for which further policy is required. Furthermore, only rarely is there a simple optimum solution to an urban problem. More usually a range of policy options exists for the consideration of decision makers and urban managers. Urban policy is the product of the power relationship between the different interest groups that constitute a particular social formation. Foremost among these actors are the state, both local and national, and capital in its various fractions. Capital and state pursue specific goals, which may be either complementary or contradictory. For capital, the prime directive is profit maximization. The state, on the other hand, in addition to facilitating the process of accumulation, must also satisfy the goal of legitimation. These political and economic imperatives have a direct influence on the nature of urban policy. Urban policy is...